Air Travel


Traveling by plane in the USA has become really easy and affordable because one has many choices. The USA and its massive airports have the most congested air space in the world. Flying has gotten so cheap that Americans prefer to fly rather than travel by train or bus. Although many flights do not always take off or land on schedule, flying is still very popular.

O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is considered by many people to be the most congested airport in the USA. JFK in New York and Newark International Airport in New Jersey are also huge airports where planes take-off and land every minute or so. Many states have both international airports and airports for domestic flights so you can imagine what a large number of people are flying every day. When you go to the airport to board a flight, you have to have your passport with you, and your airplane ticket, or a confirmed reservation. You also have to check in your luggage. You can carry a change of clothes, toiletries and personal belongings in your carry-on baggage.

To take an international fight you have to be at the airport at least two hours before the departure time. Sometimes flights are delayed or canceled at the last minute because of weather conditions or mechanical problems. Before you can board a plane, you have to go through a metal detector. The metal detector will buzz if you are carrying a gun or a piece of metal and your luggage, briefcase, or handbag must pass through an x-ray machine. Nail clippers, small knives, belt buckles or even eyebrow tweezers can activate the buzzer. After you go through the metal detector, you check in at the gate and you receive your boarding pass. Once you board your plane the flight attendants welcome you, verify your seat number and sometimes tell you if your seat is by the aisle or by the window.

When the plane is ready to go onto the assigned runway, the stewardess shows a video about the safety features on the plane. She explains where the emergency exits are located and how to proceed in case of an emergency. Before the plane takes off, you are asked to turn off all your electronic equipment: laptops, cellular phones and any other electronic devices. As soon as the plane is in the air the captain of the plane welcomes you on board and wishes you a comfortable flight. The captain will also tell you the length of the flight, the amount of time that is going to take to get to your destination, the estimated arrival time, the speed, and the altitude at which the plane will be flying.

Vocabulary and Expressions

Congested = packed; a lot of planes like some streets at rush hour.
Massive = very big.
To land = when a plane touches the ground and stops.
Huge = immense.
Domestic flights = flights within the country.
Luggage = what you carry in your suitcase.
Baggage = word similar to luggage.
At least = as a minimum.
Departure time = time at which a plane, train or bus leaves.
Delayed = not leaving or arriving at the designated time.
Canceled = called off; not taking place.
To buzz = to make noise similar to the buzz of a door.
Gun = pistol.
Nail clipper = device used to clip your nails.
Knife = device use to cut things.
Aisle = similar to a hallway.
Stewardess = flight attendant.
Turn off = to cease the flow of energy, gas, water, etc.
Captain = person commanding a plane or a ship.
Comfortable = feeling good; smoothly.
Arrival time = time in which a means of transportation gets to its destination.


Conversation Activities

1. Have you ever taken a flight or traveled by plane?
2. Tell us about the airports in your country. Is it a hassle to fly?
3. Are airports very congested or not in your country?
4. What security features do you have at the airport in your country?
5. What is the biggest plane you have flown on?
6. Do you have any seat preference, tell me why?